The Chinese Zodiac
Each year in China is linked to one of 12 animals. These 12 animals form the Chinese zodiac and people are supposed to have different characters depending on which animal year they were born in.
There are several legends telling the story of how each year got its name. This is one of them:
All the animals on earth were invited to take part in a race to see which one should be the first of the animal years. However, only 12 turned up at the starting line. They all set off together, the dog, the rat, the monkey, the sheep, the horse, the pig, the dragon, the ox, the snake, the rabbit, the rooster and the tiger.
They raced for miles across the land until they came to a wide river. The finishing line was on the other bank. All the animals plunged in to the water and started swimming to the other side.
It was hard going in the river, the water was flowing quickly, and soon the animals started to get tired and were swimming more and more slowly. Only two animals were left in the lead – the ox and the rat. The rat, being tiny and having very little legs, was struggling. She called to the ox and begged him to carry her on his strong back. The ox, being a very nice creature, agreed and the rat scrambled up his tail and clung on to his back.
The ox carried on swimming, and as he neared the other side and the finishing line, the rat darted from his shoulder and ran as fast as her little legs would carry her, over the finishing line before the ox knew what was happening!
The rat won the race and was named the first of the animal years. The ox crossed the finish line second, and he was named the second of the animal years, next was the tiger who was named the third of the animal years, then came the rabbit, the dragon, the snake and the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and last, but not least, the pig. Thus were all the years named.
The Year of the Rat is the first in the cycle of animal years, and the last is the Year of the Pig.
To find out which animal you are, you could visit http://www.chinaorbit.com/Chinese_Zodiac.1040.0.html
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